Structural editing - also known as 'developmental editing' is the first stage of editing for publication. An editor carries out a structural edit in order to understand the whole story and how everything fits together, analysing such topics as general structure, plot development, point of view, character definition, timelines, dialogue, and language. Any major issues will need to be remedied by the author before copy-editing can commence.
At the structural editing stage, the first thing I do is make a copy of the client's original typescript. I save the new document with a unique filename before formatting it to my preferred style. I print the document and read it through, making structural notes along the way. I also complile a plot breakdown, a list of characters and place names, and individual chapter notes. Once this is complete, I type up my structural report and send it to the client. This report is a editorial critique - not a writing critique, although there is some overlap - and will contain a suggested course of action, if required, for the author to follow in order to prepare the work for copy-editing.
My fee for a structural edit is based on word count, and attacts an additional fee for printing costs.